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Learning and Growing During A Hard Time

Have you ever been through one of those times when everything seems to be changing/blowing up/falling apart all at once — in your career and your personal life? “Stressful” doesn’t even begin to cover what it’s like.

But Aubrey Mayo is here to tell you that you can survive and even thrive when life starts lobbing those curveballs at you. And she should know: 2015 has really put her to the test.

Aubrey is the creative director of ESPEROS, a maker of stylish bags, a changer of lives and a dear friend of DesignGood’s. She’s also fiercely resilient and optimistic. We’ll let her tell you how she does it, and how you can, too.

2015 has been one hell of a year.

Anytime I think I’m doing something “wrong,” I’m really just getting closer to doing right.

I’ve moved across the country, left my career as a fashion stylist to join a socially conscious startup and gone through a divorce.

All without falling apart.

Don’t get me wrong – I’ve had my moments. But, ultimately, I’m still smiling.

This year I’ve done a lot of reflecting on who I am, how I got to where I am now and where I’m going. And I’ve realized there were four essential things that got me through all the upheaval. If, like me, you’re having “one of those years,” here’s what to keep in mind:

1. Be stubborn.

“Success consists of going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm.” – Winston Churchill

Stubbornness gets a bad rap sometimes, but you need it when things get tough.

The farther I get in my career, the more I love and appreciate the lows along with the highs. You have to learn from both to grow your business — and to grow as a person.

Since transitioning from a fashion stylist to the creative director of ESPEROS, I remind myself daily that a learning curve is part of any new job, career, or any other new chapter in our lives. Anytime I think I’m doing something “wrong,” I’m really just getting closer to doing right. No small business owner or startup employee knows how to do everything that needs to be done. You figure it out as you go, and often the lesson comes from a mistake. Ultimately, you just need to keep going.

2. Suck it up and do it.

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.” – Dr. Seuss

Many of us have no excuse other than lack of courage to do what it is we want to do.

I’ve always been motivated by the idea of doing. Whenever I have a 4:30 a.m. call time, or when I have to attend another business dinner after working a 10-hour day, I think about both immigrant and entrepreneurial success stories. If someone else can move to a new country with almost nothing and succeed, or start a successful business from scratch, then I can accomplish my goals, too. It just takes a little bit of work. In fact, most things are within our reach – we just have to possess the work ethic to go get them.

3. Lean on your support squad.

“Friendship is born at that moment when one man says to another: ‘What! You too? I thought that no one but myself . . .’” – C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves

Throughout this tough year, I’ve relied heavily on my friends and family. Each and every one of us needs to feel understood. Life is tough, and it’s important to find people who will pick you up when you’re down and who will be there to share in the joys of your successes. Life is nothing if we aren’t sharing it with the ones we love.

This is a common sentiment, and one we all know well, but having the support of a solid group of friends or family members is essential in times of need. When you’re coping with change, it’s important to both acknowledge and confront the tough feelings you face. Throughout this process, don’t be afraid to lean on the ones you love. Relying on a solid support group and talking to them openly and freely will help you to deal with your feelings and most importantly, grow from the experience.

4. Take a chance.

“Do one thing every day that scares you.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

I try to apply this quote to my life every day. Sometimes, it might mean reading a book I know I won’t understand or traveling alone, but it usually it’s introducing myself to someone I don’t know and being open to where the introduction may lead. Most great opportunities come unexpectedly, so you have to become comfortable being in a space of unknowns and capable of making decisions in that uncomfortable space. Both in life and in my work at ESPEROS, I try to take chances whenever possible and make decisions based on my gut instincts. I’ve made some of my biggest decisions that way and they’ve served me all the better.

There’s no magical equation to success or happiness. Our response to the events that happen to us is what defines our character, and our character is what allows us to have a good attitude even in the worst of situations.

2015 may have been one hell of a year, but I’m all the better for it. I can’t wait to see what 2016 has in store.

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